[2002] Plasma levels of interleukin-12 (IL-12), interleukin-18 (IL-18) and transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta) in Plasmodium falciparum malaria.

Malaguarnera L, Pignatelli S, Simporè J, Malaguarnera M, Musumeci S. Eur Cytokine Netw. 2002 Oct-Dec ;13(4):425-30. Erratum in : Eur Cytokine Netw. 2003 Jan-Mar ;14(1):19. PMID : 12517727 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]


The interaction between pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines such as interleukin 12 (IL-12), interleukin 18 (IL-18) and transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta) may play an important role in malaria pathogenesis and outcome. IL-18 cooperates with IL-12 in the IFN-gamma production by T, B, and NK cells, and synergizes with IL-12 for IFN-gamma production by Th1 cells. Recently it has been demonstrated that these cytokines modulate the immunoresponse in Plasmodium falciparum malaria. The aim of this study was to measure the plasma levels of IL-12, IL-18 and TGF-beta in 105 African children with various degrees of malaria, and correlate the production of these cytokines with the severity of the disease. IL-12, IL-18 and TGF-beta levels were determined using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. The severity of malaria was established by parasitemia, clinical symptoms and haematological parameters. The levels of IL-12, IL-18 and TGF-beta were found to be significantly elevated (15.6 + / - 12.3, 22.7 + / - 13.8 pg/ml and 25.14 + / - 13.22 pg/ml respectively) in all of the children. IL-12 and IL-18 levels were significantly lower (13.2 + / - 5.53 and 21.5 + / - 10 pg/ml pg/ml) in children with severe disease, whereas the level of TGF-beta was higher (28.09 + / - 12.39 pg/ml). In contrast, IL-12 and IL-18 levels were found to be higher (17.32 + / - 7.8 pg/ml and 25.7 + / - 7.6 pg/ml) in patients with mild disease, whereas the level of TGF-beta was lower (20.92 + / - 12.76 pg/ml) compared to the severe malaria group. The correlation between IL-12 and IL-18 demonstrated a progressive relationship up to a value of IL-12 < 25 pg/ml, while IL-18 remained stable at higher levels of IL-12. An inverse correlation was found between IL-12 and TGF-beta up to a value of IL-12 < 30, after which the level of TGF-beta remained stable. This finding suggests that fine mechanisms regulate the interaction between IL-12, IL-18 and TGF-beta in the immune response to Plasmodium falciparum.

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